Cisco Canada Blog

Interaction Technology: Neutralizing the barriers of time, location and staffing levels

January 30, 2014

As part of my continuing series on the 24-hour bank this post builds on the question of how banks could begin to develop the capabilities, enabled by technology, to address the operational and logistical challenges inherent in operating in a customer-driven 24-hour world.

First up are the factors that shape our existing distribution model: our traditional route to market and how our clients connect and interact with banks. Starting with branches, our traditional distribution model has evolved with the development of technologies such as the telephone, the Internet and ATM’s. While these technologies provided increased options for clients to interact and transact, they were still affected by constraints of the existing operating model– the availability of bank staff with the requisite skills.

How so? Contact centres, telephone and online banking required a shift in staffing models to enable customers interact and transact outside of the normal work day. ATM’s allowed customers to self-serve for certain basic transactions at any time of day. Collectively these technologies extend operating hours for clients, but services were limited due the fact that the expertise required for more complex services were still unavailable outside the traditional workday.

24-hour banking is based on the notion that client needs can be served around the clock. This requires the availability of the requisite skills around the clock, and when you factor in the Canada-wide and global footprint of major banks, this presents a staffing, scheduling and cost challenge.

This is where collaboration technology comes in. A unified platform that ties together all modes of communications, coupled with video, now make it possible for banks to cost effectively staff and serve in a 24-hour operating model.  A subset of collaboration is what we call unified communications (UC) technology. UC makes it possible for the expertise required for service to be anywhere – untethered from the physical branch or contact centre and easily reached. It also provides the built-in network intelligence that connects the client, whether on the Internet or a mobile device, with the right expertise dynamically.

When banks can ‘untether’ experts, significant benefits can be derived. These includeincreased productivity of a mortgage specialist who instead of traveling between branches can service more client from their office through video

– Increased productivity of a mortgage specialist who instead of traveling between branches can service more client from their office through video

– Increased sales opportunities as more business is closed sooner

-Increased client satisfaction because their needs are met faster

-Greater leverage of existing staff across a wider geographic footprint

Moreover, the tools that enable 24-hour operations also positively impact in-branch operations. In-branch video access to experts located elsewhere can better serve branches with peaks and valleys in customer traffic. For example, the resources in a branch with low traffic could be redirected to serve customers in another branch with traffic that exceeds staffing capacity.

We’ve also seen how the use of video to connect experts with clients can be used to provide specialized support previously unavailable in all branches. With video, literally every specialist within your organization is available to your clients – anytime.

Several banks have started to test and utilize collaboration technology, which by the way also includes video-enabled ATM’s as to enable better leverage of key staff as referenced in a recent article in the American Banker magazine on ANZ Bank in New Zealand.

As more banks deploy smaller footprint branches in an effort to optimize distribution costs, these technologies will enable them to provide a full suite of services with fewer staff. The bank branch of the future may be smaller, but the services they will deliver will be bigger than ever.

In subsequent posts I will discuss the additional technologies, related business practices and policies essential for success in today’s banking landscape.

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